Ridge promises tech crowd future IT opportunities

Tom Ridge

staff file

Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge gave a pep talk to a thousand of his biggest fans Tuesday night at the Northern Virginia Technology Council's annual spring banquet, and asked them to keep making suggestions about technology solutions for securing the nation's borders and ports.

"Technology allows us to spot patterns of risk," Ridge said. "Risk management is at the very heart of homeland security."

One element of risk management that Ridge called for was the development of "reliable behavior indicators" that could be used to spot individuals who might be terrorist suspects. These could be used in conjunction with other screening systems already in place, such as the checks being run on airline ticket holders, to minimize the disruption to regular travelers, he said.

Some time later this year, the department will unveil a new tracking system for foreign visitors to the country, Ridge said. Originally dubbed the INS Entry-Exit System, the Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology system, or VISIT, will use biometrics to allow legitimate travelers to enter the country while seeking out those deemed a threat.

The department will be issuing broad area announcements, inviting companies to submit ideas on specific challenges that need to be addressed, Ridge said. For now, he asked that companies make use of the department's Web site to submit ideas for homeland security technologies, at vendors.dhs.gov. The department continues to look for "good ideas and cost-effective solutions that can be replicated around the country," he said.

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